Debenhams has settled a discrimination case with a transgender woman who claimed her job application was rejected because of her gender identity.
The retailer settled a case brought by Ava Moore for £9,000, with no admission of liability.
Moore applied for a job as a temporary sales assistant for Christmas 2018. She was invited to an interview which she claimed went well, but a few days later she received an anonymous email that alleged that her application had been unsuccessful because she was transgender.
She said: “I was really disappointed that I didn’t get the job. I thought I had completed a good interview which had included interacting with customers on the sales floor. This job was exactly what I’d been looking for and I thought that I’d be really good at it. However, during the course of the interview I felt a change in the atmosphere after I provided my birth certificate which discloses my gender history and the fact that I am a transgender woman.
“I was so upset. What does my gender have to do with my ability to make sales?”
Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland, which supported Moore with her claim, said: “The issue here is simple – a job should go to the person who does best at interview and in selection tests. That’s what equality of opportunity in practice means. The company confirmed that Ava performed well at interview and in interacting with customers – and she says she told them she was willing to work the hours required.
“The more open and inclusive the recruitment process, the more likely it is to avoid unlawful discrimination and increase the likelihood of getting the best and most qualified people for the job.”
Debenhams said it was willing to liaise with the Commission to review its equal opportunities policies, practices and procedures.
A Debenhams spokesperson said: “We have agreed a settlement on the basis of no liability on the part of Debenhams. We are an equal opportunities employer committed to promoting equality and diversity within the business and throughout the sector. Decisions on recruitment, training, promotion and employment conditions are based solely on personal competence and performance.”